Meet the New CTA Social Media Coordinator: Sharon Heller

By Marion Rhodes, CTA Interim Vice President.

September 9, 2015

After two and a half years, I decided to give up my position as the social media coordinator for the Colorado Interpreters & Translators Association in order to step in as interim vice president. I am very happy that Sharon Heller of Palisade, Colorado, agreed to take over my position. After talking to her, I am confident that she will take great care of our CTA social media presence. Here is my introductory interview with her. If you need to get in touch with Sharon, you can email her at gro.bew-atc@rotanidroocaidem.

Sharon Heller
Sharon Heller

Marion Rhodes: First of all, please give us some background about yourself. How long have you been a translator, and what brought you to CTA?

Sharon Heller: I became interested in translation over ten years ago when I had the opportunity to live in Ecuador. I took a class with an outstanding professor, Gustavo Fierro, in the Universidad de San Francisco – he was such an inspiration. I still have my notes from that class. I continued on the path to becoming a translator through a degree in Spanish and a translation qualification. We knew we eventually wanted to settle in Colorado, so that drew me to the University of Denver program. Cris Silva was one of my instructors – she is the reason I became aware of the existence of the CTA. When we moved back to Colorado in 2013, it seemed like a natural step to join the association.

MR: What made you decide to volunteer for the social media coordinator position?

SH: This position was definitely a leap out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to become more involved in the CTA because I believe it offers a great opportunity for interaction with other translators, and hopefully I can contribute to the organization. I know that this role will be a particular challenge for me – but challenges are always good.

MR: I understand that within the last few weeks, you learned quite a few new things about social media marketing. How has the learning curve been for you?

SH: I am conquering the phobia, Marion! Seriously, I have not been blind to the power of social media marketing, but I have been reluctant to get too involved with some of the social media networks. One concern was that it would be too time-consuming, but as I become more comfortable, I realize that there are tools to help manage these networks in more efficient ways.

MR: Why do you think being connected on social media is important for freelance translators?

SH: I consider it of particular importance for new translators who are trying to become established. The translation profession is constantly evolving; borders are disappearing, and nowadays if clients want to know more about you, then social media is usually where they will look. In terms of cost and exposure, it is the most effective form of publicity. Having said that, I am sure many established translators still do very well without being connected to all of the networks. To me, building a reputation by being a trusted and competent translator is still more important, but having a social media presence is essential.

MR: What is your vision for CTA?

SH: I would love to see the CTA recruit and provide guidance for new graduates entering the profession. I think there would be an attraction in professional development opportunities as well as the chance to network with experienced translators. The webinars are already a great addition – offering training and education opportunities on a virtual platform is the most effective way to reach people across the state. Looking at this theme from the other side, educators need to remain current with the changes in the translation industry, and I think professional organizations like the CTA can play in role here.

MR: Since you live all the way out on Colorado’s Western Slope, many of our members may not get to meet you in person very often. Tell us something unique about yourself that will make us feel like we know you a little bit better. 

SH: We have a small vineyard, so over the last two years, I have learned how to make wine. The bigger part of the vineyard is leased – those grapes are shipped to Boulder and the wine is made there. If you ever have a glass of Bookcliff Malbec in Boulder, it started in my backyard.